Pennsylvania’s Democratic Race for Governor Gets Testy

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Party Elders Warn Swipes Could Weaken Effort to Unseat Republican Corbett.

From left, Rob McCord, Katie McGinty, Allyson Schwartz and Tom Wolf prepare for a Democratic gubernatorial debate

A Democratic primary battle in Pennsylvania has alarmed party elders, who say the internecine attacks could undercut a chance at unseating vulnerable Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

Fellow Democrats began swiping at businessman Tom Wolf after he unexpectedly rose to the top of polls ahead of the May 20 primary. One ad suggested the candidate was responsible for layoffs at a family-founded business. Another ominously asked why he once backed the mayoral campaign of a man accused of helping incite a race riot.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell and Sen. Bob Casey, both Democrats, recently said the fight could weaken the party’s candidate ahead of the general election this fall.

Political experts say the Pennsylvania race represents one of the best opportunities for Democrats to unseat a GOP governor. Democrats carried the state in the past six presidential elections, and experts say Mr. Corbett faces long odds to win re-election, with a low approval rating even among Republican voters, and, more recently, a widening revenue shortfall that could crimp his coming budget.

Billy Pitman, a spokesman for Mr. Corbett’s campaign, said the governor has a strong record to run on, including keeping a promise to keep taxes low and the creation of thousands of jobs in the drilling industry. The state’s unemployment rate was 6% in March, below the national rate of 6.7% that month.

No Pennsylvania governor has lost re-election since the state allowed second terms in the late 1960s. Still, Mr. Corbett’s unpopularity drew a bevy of challengers: Eight candidates entered the primary race. Four are left.

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